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Alberta’s Health & Lifestyle Magazine for People with Spinal Cord Injuries & Other Physical Disabilities

Spring 2012


FIRST STOP, MEDICINE HAT! Publications Mail Agreement #40011327


Spring 2012 Volume 28 Number 2



16 Building For The Future




Letters to the Editor


In the News


Meet the Staff


CPA (Alberta) Advocacy

Fitzone 12 Healthier Lifestyles Opinion 19 From My Perspective

Editor ........................... Betty MacIsaac Assistant Editors .........Chris Brainerd/ Zachary Weeks Layout/Design ............Kyle Thompson

Spinal Columns is published four times a year by the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta). Advertising rates available upon request. Ideas, submissions, requests, suggestions and letters are always welcome. Address them to: The Editor, Spinal Columns Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) #305, 11010 - 101 Street Edmonton, Alberta T5H 4B9 (780) 424-6312

Health 22 Preventing Pressure Ulcers 24 Syrinx Alert

Meeting market demand for accessible housing. FEATURE STORY

14 On The Right Track

Sports 30 Paralympian Walks Again In Recognition 32 The Red Carpet Affair Regional News 34 What’s New in Alberta Travel 36 Travelling VIA Rail

Material printed in Spinal Columns may not be reproduced without written permission from the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta). We neither endorse nor guarantee any of the products or services advertised within Spinal Columns. Readers are strongly urged to thoroughly investigate products/companies before purchase. Spinal Columns is available in alternate formats by contacting our office as listed above.

Accessibility 37 Benefits of Universal Design Library 38 I Will Teach You Everything You Need 38 Read Like Never Before ON THE COVER

Publications Mail Agreement #40011327 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) #305, 11010 - 101 Street Edmonton, AB T5H 4B9 E-Mail:

Community 26 Boyle Renaissance 27 A Home Away From Home 28 One Canadian Inspires MIllions

Larr y Buchan and his train collection.

Duane Burr, driving his accessible Can Am Spyder, leads a group of over 30 medal bearers and Talon runners.

ISSN 1195-5767 Spinal Columns




thought it would be important for the readership to know that CPA (Alberta) may be required to go through some difficult transitions this year related to resources and structure. Over the past five years we enjoyed an annual commitment of funds as part of the Alberta Spinal Cord Injury Initiative which allowed us to increase our capacity in the area of rehabilitation support and service coordination and regional community development. We were also able to pilot special projects related to fitness and wellness in Calgary and Edmonton and offer a number of educational or empowerment workshops. As you will recall, the Alberta SCI Initiative was funded by the Government of Alberta in response to the Rick Hansen 20th Anniversary proposal developed in collaboration with CPA (Alberta) and other stakeholders. We are very proud of the impact that this increased capacity allowed. We participated in the development of a Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Proposal delivered to the Government of Alberta in 2011, however with the current leadership race, new cabinet appointments and now a provincial election to preoccupy decision makers, we are left with the prospect of receiving no further funding to protect our capacity. Knowing that the five year Initiative funding was concluding in March 2012, CPA (Alberta) tried a number of approaches to ramp up our fund development capacity, however related to economic trends over the past five years, we have not been successful in acquiring replacement funds. We continue to pursue sponsorship recruitment for our programs and services. Therefore 2012 presents key challenges for us related to analyzing where our greatest impact is, and resizing our staff structure to fit our budget for this upcoming year. Like other organizations in the not-for-profit and charitable sector, the government sector and for profit business, we were required to say goodbye to a few of our valued staff. I would like to thank all our staff, volunteers and corporate supporters for their dedication in helping us to achieve our mission in the past and in the future!

Teren Clarke Executive Director


AWARDS LUNCHEON AND NOTICE OF ANNUAL gENERAL MEETINg June 9, 2012 Awards Luncheon – 11:30 a.m. Annual General Meeting – 1:00 p.m. Four Points Sheraton 7230 Argyll Road, Edmonton RSVP Deadline May 31, 2011 Contact Chantelle at 780-424-6312 or With respect to the Annual General Meeting and nominations to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta), please forward your nominations(s) to the Chair of the Nominating Committee, c/o CPA (Al (Alberta) at the Edmonton office. Nominations must be in writing and signed by five members of the association at large, contain the nominee’s written consent, and be received at the Edmonton office 48 hours prior to the start of the Annual General Meeting. For more information, contact Teren Clarke at 780-424-6312 or

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Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) Toll Free: 1-888-654-5444 Find us on Facebook and become a fan! Watch videos on our Youtube channel: HEAD OFFICE #305, 11010 - 101 Street Edmonton, Alberta T5H 4B9 Telephone: (780) 424-6312 Fax: (780) 424-6313 E-mail: Executive Director: Teren Clarke SOUTHERN DISTRICT OFFICE 5211 4 Street NE Calgary, AB T2K 6J5 Telephone: (403) 228-3001 Fax: (403) 229-4271 E-mail: RED DEER OFFICE #103, 4719 - 48th Avenue Red Deer, Alberta T4N 3T1 Telephone: (403) 341-5060 Fax: (403) 343-1630 E-mail: GRANDE PRAIRIE OFFICE 10 Knowledge Way Grande Prairie, Alberta, T8W 2V9 Telephone: (780) 532-3305 Fax: (780) 539-3567 E-mail: LETHBRIDGE OFFICE 1274 3 Avenue South Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 0J9 Telephone: (403) 327-7577 Fax: (403) 320-0269 E-mail: MEDICINE HAT OFFICE 26-419 3rd Street SE Medicine Hat, Alberta T1A 0G9 Telephone: (403) 504-4001 Fax: (403) 504-5172 E-mail: ST. PAUL OFFICE Box 653 St. Paul, AB T0A 3A0 Telephone: (780) 645-5116 Fax: (780) 645-5141 E-mail: LLOYDMINSTER OFFICE 4419 52 Avenue, Lloydminster, AB T9V 0Y8 Tel & Fax: (780) 875-1046 E-mail: FORT McMURRAY Gregoire Park Centre 194 Grenfell Crescent Fort McMurray, AB T9H 2M6 Tel: (780) 743-0307 Fax: (780) 743-4563 E-mail: WEST-CENTRAL OFFICE PO Box 128 Wabamun, AB T0E 2K0 Tel: (780) 892-3431 Fax: (780) 892-3431 E-mail: CPA (Alberta) BOARD OF DIRECTORS Aaron Miller, Chair Dale Williams, Past Chair Scott Sankey, Treasurer Maxwell Brunette Lisa Crown Harvey J. DeCock Kent Hehr Bill Hendsbee Timothy Hill Martin Purvis Ray Royer Ned Shillington Eleanor Sugarman



EDITOR A few months ago I was informed by my credit card company, Capital One, that they would be mailing me a new credit card requiring me to enter a PIN each time I made a purchase. I wasn’t excited about this: I use a wheelchair (I’m paraplegic) and I didn’t want to get out of my van and into my wheelchair in order to pay for gas. There are still a few full serve gas stations and, when I’m fortunate enough to find one, it is a real convenience to be able to send the attendant in with my credit card in order to pay. Anyhow, I have wonderful news. It took some extra calling to my credit card company (and an unwillingness to take no for an answer!) but they agreed to issue me a “chipped” card that could be used without entering a PIN - a message would simply appear on the merchants terminal asking for a signature instead of requiring a PIN. I thought this might be useful information to your readership - thank-you for the opportunity to pass this along! Yours truly, Martin Dear Editor, With the federal government pulling funding for co-op, nonprofit and public housing units, nothing new is getting built. While I am blessed to be in an incredible accessible unit in a great co-op, the unfortunate thing is, unless individual coops have had incredible forethought and bookkeeping, many, many unsuspecting people with disabilities will end up on the streets—again I am particularly fortunate here in the Yukon— the housing authority has a sub-lease with the co-op, so I get my subsidy directly, not through the co-op. This is, in fact, safer for me; however I went to the training offered by the co-op housing federation a year and a half ago and it really is going to get unpleasant. I would be worried, and I think it’s time we, as consumers, should be demanding the feds get back into social housing—like all those great accessible units and co-ops that were built in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Now, with waiting lists of over 10 years, it’s a scary world to my way of thinking. Emily Have something on your mind you’d like to talk about? Need to let people know something important? Want to give us feedback on a specific article, or Spinal Columns as a whole? Send us your comments to and we may publish it in an upcoming issue! Spinal Columns





CONgRATULATIONS MARLIN STYNER Marlin Styner was chosen as the recipient of the 2011 Council of Canadians with Disabilities Award. Award recipients are recognized for their dedication and integrity in the continuing pursuit of full participation in society by people with disabilities in Alberta. Marlin is a past staff member of CPA (Alberta) and past Marlin and his wife Diane Chair of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities until he became ill a few months ago. We congratulate Marlin on this award and wish him better health in the days ahead.


Kimberly Joines is presented with her gold medal. Kimberly Joines of Edmonton, Alberta came from behind on Thursday, March 15, 2012 to capture gold in the super combined at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cup Finals in Panorama, B.C. Joines, third after the super-G portion of the super combined and 4.46 seconds back from the leader, the USA’s Alana Nichols, put down a stellar slalom run to take the win with a margin of 2.04 seconds.

BARRIER-FREE DESIgN gUIDE In partnership with the Barrier-Free Council of the Safety Codes Council, Safety Services has developed a Barrier-Free Design Guide to provide further interpretation and understanding of accessibility requirements under section 3.8 of the Alberta Building Code. Barrier-Free design allows for proper and safe access to buildings and facilities, regardless of disability. The Guide also makes recommendations for best practices, including residen-


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tial living spaces. The 2008 Barrier-Free Design Guide is available for download at by clicking Public, then Publications in the tab to the left of the screen. There, you can find a free download or an order form for the printed book, which you can order from the Safety Codes Council for $15.00.

VIPER POWER TRIKES For many people there is nothing cooler than the thought of riding a bike down a country road on a nice sunny day. Well, now there’s the Viper. The “Viper” is an electric bike attachment that only takes a few seconds to mount on your wheelchair and can be done in seconds. There are now people all over the world who won’t let using a wheelchair stop them from riding behind a single front wheel, throttle-controlled simply by a flick of their wrist - thanks to the folks at Team Hybrid. Dr. Mark Higgon formed Team Hybrid Ltd. in January 2002 after researching and trying a number of hand cycles and finding there was a gap in the British market for reliable powered and manual hand cycle wheelchair attachments. Team Hybrid produce a unique range of hand cycles that are designed to be used with a rigid frame wheelchair. Once the docking system is in place, the freedom of cycling is available to all! Calgarians Jay McCue, Kasey Holberton and Dom Nunya all said they went with the Viper because it was the perfect mix of the freedom and flexibility of a manual wheelchair with the benefits of powered wheelchairs to cover lots of different terrain and much longer distances without tiring themselves out. They also liked how easy Vipers are to set up and use, and that the equipment fits onto their own wheelchairs. Both Jay and Kasey say they can travel and explore more easily. By simply disconnecting the front Viper wheel from their wheelchair, they can transfer into a car, put the Viper and wheelchair into the trunk of a vehicle and be off on their adventures. Jay also liked the Viper’s power, its top speed of 12 miles per hour and that the battery charges fully in under 2 hours. Kasey, who is quadriplegic at the C6-7 level, has had her Viper for almost 10 years and says she honestly can’t imagine her life without it now. Her advice is if you have a disability and have an interest in the Viper, just do it! For pictures, video, and more information check out or email for Canadian Viper sales and information.

CPA ONLINE AUCTIONS RETURN! It’s back! CPA (Alberta) Online Auctions will run throughout the summer. For more information, check out

IN MEMORIAM The Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) would like to recognize the following individuals who have recently passed on. Adam Grabowski Randy Moore Harry Peebles Gordon C. Richmond

Stony Plain Calgary Calgary Turner Valley

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Kris Janvier, Aboriginal Client Services Coordinator working out of the Edmonton office, has been with CPA (Alberta) since May 2011. What he likes most about his job is working with the passionate staff and volunteers who make our community a more inclusive place. Originally from Chipewyan Prairie First Nation, he now calls Edmonton home with his beautiful wife of 3 years, Amy. Outside of his work, Kris really enjoys spending his time being active. Golfing, kickboxing, and Brazilian jujitsu are just some of the things Kris does in his spare time. Did he mention he plays the ukulele? Some people have called him the Eddie Van Halen of the ‘ukulele world’. However, since being a professional musician requires a lot of time on the road, he decided it was best to just obtain his degree in Psychology. Being a terrible liar is another one of his traits.

Heather Osmond, originally from Newfoundland, joined CPA (Alberta)’s Fort McMurray office as both Community Development Coordinator and Client Services Coordinator in March 2011. She has a background in Employment and Training and Office Administration, having worked in those fields for three and five years, respectively. She also recently graduated from Keyano College, with certificates in both Human Resources and Business, and she is working towards her diploma. Since joining CPA (Alberta), Heather has worked diligently to redefine Fort McMurray as an accessible community. Heather enjoys working at CPA (Alberta) because of her love for helping people. Advocating for people with SCI and other physical disabilities has helped her to learn and grow in many ways.


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Kasey Holberton joined CPA (Alberta)’s Calgary office as a Client Services Coordinator in Employment Services in June 2011, though she will be moving to the position of Aboriginal Services Coordinator (Urban), as of April 1, 2012. She sustained an incomplete spinal cord injury at the C6-7 level, due to a snowboarding accident in Fernie, B.C. in 1999. Kasey is currently attending SAIT and will be a Certified Nutritionist upon graduating in June 2012. She will also be a participant in the SCI Fitness and Wellness Centre Calgary: An Initiative of the CPA (Alberta) Calgary Office. What she likes most about working for CPA (Alberta) is the opportunity to share her personal experiences with clients and helping them overcome obstacles. She is passionate about food, sports such as handcycling, wheelchair basketball, and quad rugby, as well as traveling to far-off places. She aspires to be named to the National Para-cycling team and represent Canada at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

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ADVOCACY Over the last few months there have been a number of new or existing initiatives that are moving ahead. CPA (Alberta) has been very active in trying to improve community access for persons with disabilities. We have also been working on the development of expanded housing options for persons with disabilities:


On March 26 the official start of construction of the Boyle Renaissance housing project was kicked off at a ceremony on the building site at 95th St. and 105th Avenue in Edmonton. On hand to celebrate this momentous occasion was Mike Holmes of the TV show Holmes on Homes. Mayor Stephen Mandel and other dignitaries were also in attendance. This 90 suite building will include 33 accessible suites and 57 regular suites. A highlight of the event was the opportunity to view a mockup of one of three suites that will be fully adapted to meet the needs of someone with a severe disability, including the most up to date technology. Using an iPad or iPhone, people with severe disabilities will be able to: lock, unlock and open their doors and view who is at the door; control blinds, temperature, window openings, appliances, lighting and all entertainment devices. Individuals will also be able to control these devices remotely. Cisco Canada, sponsor of this up-to-date technology for the three suites was in attendance to demonstrate this technology. The designs, while fairly compact, make good use of floor space and innovation. Partners in this building would be the City of Edmonton, Métis Housing Corporation and CPA (Alberta). Anticipated completion is late 2013. The hunt for prospective tenants will start in early 2013.

STATION POINTE PROJECT CPA (Alberta) continues to work with Communitas, a nonprofit housing development group that would like to develop a property in Edmonton, close to the Belvedere LRT station. CPA (Alberta) is proposing the development of one of the apartment buildings into a nonprofit office/accessible affordable housing project. We are now looking for people who would be interested in working on this exciting project. If interested, contact Larry Pempeit at 780-424-6312 or

ALBERTA SCI SOLUTIONS INITIATIVES A number of initiatives undertaken through funding from the Alberta SCI Solutions initiative have now been, or will be,


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completed by the end of June 2012. • CPA (Alberta) and other community stakeholders have developed a Builders Award for housing developers and builders. This award will bring interest to the need for accessible housing and hopefully encourage developers to build more accessible housing. We are presently working with the Home for Life Committee (chaired by Glenrose Hospital staff), Safety Codes Council, Calgary Affordable Accessible Housing Committee and the Edmonton Home Builders Association to determine if sponsors for the award can be found. • A provincial, residential online assessment tool for prospective renters and sellers of homes. Prospective renters and homeowners can go to the site to see if listings match their needs. Calgary Accessible Housing Society will host the site. Look for an official announcement this spring. • An adapted technology program that was funded under the Alberta SCI Solutions initiative. Technologically-based workstations are available in six regions of the province. Members can contact Kris Janvier in the Edmonton CPA (Alberta) office to learn more about the program as well as to access this equipment on a trial basis – kris.janvier@ or 780-424-6312. • The Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) brochures have been printed about the treatment and prevention of UTIs, a protocol paper written, treatment table and an algorithm will soon be posted on the CPA (Alberta) website. This committee is now in the process of developing a process to insure information packages reach the appropriate people. They will also be presenting at the Rick Hansen Foundation Independence Conference in May. • The project that provided funding for pressure relief/reduction for individuals is now being assessed as to the effects on each individual’s health, pressure sore risk and quality of life. Data will be compared to a baseline and a report prepared on the results. This report will be placed on the CPA (Alberta) website. • The evaluation of Alberta supportive housing projects has now been completed. This document describes and reviews many developments across Alberta that have provided affordable, accessible housing and provides a home care component. Best practices have been reviewed and it is hoped this document will lead to greater projects across Alberta.

EDMONTON NgO OFFICE PROJECT CPA (Alberta) has met with a number of organizations that represent persons with disabilities to determine if there is support for developing a nonprofit center for agencies. It appears there is good support within this sector (22 agencies) as well as within provincial and municipal governments. The business case for this project should be completed by June 2012.

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TO CREATE HEALTHIER LIFESTYLES by Lorelei Maher and Amy MacKinnon


inter has come to an end! And with that, fitness and physical activity moves to the forefront. This April, SCI Action Canada teamed up with CPA (Alberta) to promote healthy and active living for people with spinal cord injuries (SCI). The purpose was to educate and provide a network of resources to health care professionals and clients in Edmonton and Calgary. Amy Latimer-Cheung, representative from SCI Action Canada, gave a presentation which focused on the newly developed physical activity guidelines for adults with SCI’s, and how the guidelines were developed. She highlighted a few resources and programs that SCI Action Canada provides such as the Active Homes guides, the Get Fit Toolkit, the Knowledge Mobilization Training Series which is a series of online video exercise tutorials, and the Get in Motion program which is a free physical activity counselling service for Canadians with spinal cord injuries. Afternoon participants took part in various exercises showcased on their online video tutorials, and tested some sporting equipment, while both users and rehabilitation professionals networked with other physical activity and sport organizations. Peers talk about how they were able to become active after their SCI and how it improved their quality of life. Earlier in the day, rehabilitation professionals from the Glenrose and the Foothills hospitals engaged in conversations around how to connect the community better to ensure those with an SCI are aware of and have opportunity to partake in physical activity programming, and how we can all work better together. In Edmonton and Calgary, the afternoon group was able to participate in an accessibility tour of the Terwillegar Recreation Centre and the Talisman Centre. It was acknowledged that Calgary has less access to accessible facilities that can provide appropriate adapted exercise instruction, which is why the new SCI Fitness Centre, located in the Calgary CPA (Alberta) office is a welcome addition to the community. The SCI Fitness Centre will initially open its doors as the host facility for a study looking at the benefits of exercise for those with SCI on pulmonary function and quality of life. It is generally recognized that improved pulmonary function can reduce the risk of, and improve recovery from, respiratory illnesses, and can lead to improved quality of life. There is evidence to suggest that respiratory muscle training, through an aggressive, individually tailored exercise program can improve pulmonary function; however evidence in the type and duration of exercise required to achieve improvements is not available. This study will address the gap in information. The study will admit 28 participants, approximately half with paraplegia and half with tetraplegia (quadriplegia) and each participant will participate in a 36 week program. The CPA (Alberta) SCI Fitness Centre features state of the art equipment, including standing


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SCI Action Showcase - Calgary

SCI Action Showcase - Edmonton elliptical machines, and a ceiling track system with harnesses which will allow participants to navigate around the gym without their chairs, and bear weight. For those interested in participating in the study, the fee will be $3600 for the pilot program of aggressive and repetitive exercise under supervision of an exercise physiologist and program coordinator. Secured funding allows those admitted to the pilot program to have the fee subsidized by $3000, for a total of $600 payable by the participant, comparable to the cost of a gym membership. The initiatives by SCI Action Canada as well as the upcoming study through the CPA (Alberta) SCI Fitness Centre are very exciting and an indicator that exercise initiatives for those with SCI are now being developed as a result of research, and not just the assumption that what works for those who don’t have a spinal cord injury, will work for those who do. If you were unable to attend the SCI Action Showcase in Edmonton or Calgary, you are encouraged to check out the programs and services they offer (free) on their website at www., toll-free at 1-866-678-1966 or motion@ Stay tuned for more information on how you can become involved with the study being conducted at the Calgary CPA (Alberta) SCI Fitness Centre.


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ON THE RiGHT TRaCK by Barry Lindemann


ver the years, we have written many stories about individuals who have different hobbies or interests. And while we have certainly seen folks who have passionate interests, I have never met anyone as absolutely crazy about one particular subject—trains and train-related items and history—as Larry Buchan. A visit to Larry’s beautiful home on the outskirts of Okotoks, Alberta is your first clue that you might be about to meet someone who likes trains. As you descend a short hill and turn into his property, you’ll notice that his home resembles an old train station, reminiscent of the Prairies approximately one hundred years ago. With a ramp at the front door and a wraparound deck, it’s a great place to enjoy the rolling landscape that surrounds the house and the area is filled with animals, some train tracks and the occasional piece of antique train and farm-related machinery. Quadriplegic as the result of a spinal cord injury at the C4 level and now in his early sixties, Larry came to love trains at an early age. This interest was heightened by the reminiscences of both his father and Jim Atkinson, a long-time friend of the family who worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Larry’s father rode trains during the 1920s and the early Depression years to find work harvesting crops. He was further influenced by the music of Jimmy Rogers, guitarist and singer from the Depression era, who worked as a brakeman on the Texas and New Orleans railroad. Though Rogers’ career was cut short as a result of his death from tuberculosis in 1933, the 1960s saw a renewal of his fame when his albums were re-released on vinyl. Larry’s father and his friend regularly played the LPs at Saturday get-togethers. It was the coupling of this music and the stories of life on the rails that spurred Larry into a career on the railroad. In the spring of 1965, a traffic accident caused Larry to miss a lot of school. When he was finally able to return to school, he


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found the class times and schedules not to his liking and decided to drop out. This didn’t sit well with Larry’s parents who said, “If you aren’t in school, its time to find a job.” After bouncing around various tough, manual jobs, Larry saw many of his friends looking to the CPR. At 16 years of age, he took on the apprentice job of “tinsmith” (sheet-metal worker), working on all types of locomotives. After two years, he was laid off as the CPR began discontinuing many passenger trains, and there was a downturn in freight traffic. After working in various industries and positions, it was 1973 when Larry decided it was time to look for a good job and a more settled way of life. His love of trains lingering in the back of his mind, he remembered a friend who worked as a CPR brakeman and talked about what a great job it was. He applied to the CPR once again and was soon back on the trains working as a switchman on the ‘spare board.’ As summer passed, and others moved on, Larry was soon given a permanent assignment, but not yet as brakeman. Larry moved to Medicine Hat and couldn’t believe his luck when, after only eight months, he was placed as a ‘tail end brakeman.’ His ‘dream job’ didn’t last long as on his third anniversary, he had to write an exam for promotion to conductor/yard foreman. Larry says, “I was now back at the bottom of the ladder again instead of holding cushy jobs as a switchman or helper.” In 1977 Larry saw an ad for qualified yard foremen to train as relief Car Retarder Operators. Larry got the job but just when it seemed he was on his way to bigger things, an internal dispute led to him being moved to another new role. In 1978, Larry started the Locomotive Engineers Training Program, saying, “It was the best decision I ever made.” After marrying his wife Anita in 1987, he found himself working some of the best railway jobs in Southern Alberta. Larry recalls highlights, including working as a locomotive engineer on a special train inspection tour of the new tunnels that the CPR built

feature 1 the Rogers Pass, and in 1999 being called to work on through the first Christmas Train that the CPR ran for donations to the food banks. His passion for trains by then had also extended to steam locomotives, which came about as a result of his involvement with the Heritage Park in Calgary as a spare fireman. Larry says he enjoyed his employment right up to the time of a second traffic accident in 2000, which caused his spinal cord injury. After his accident, Larry was left with limited hand use and worried that all of the great antique train-related objects he had collected over the years would just sit in boxes. He soon discovered, however, that with the help of his care attendants, family and a computer, he could still enjoy collecting and working on his passion. His commitment to the hobby has resulted in two large spaces on his property dedicated to his love of trains. They are filled with fascinating items and books about the trains that moved across our great land; however his collection of train engineer pocket and wristwatches will just blow you away. Larry has become so knowledgeable about train-related watches that he has his own website,, and is a trusted resource on the subject in many online communities. Besides working at Heritage Park, Larry is a long time member of the Rocky Mountain Rail Society. Larry’s advice for others who think their disabilities may keep them from enjoying their pre-injury hobbies and interests is quite straightforward and can be summed up as “just do what you can and be patient with the hands that help you do what you can’t.” His beautiful collection is testament to what a passionate interest, combined with love, dedication and a little outside assistance can build.

For more about Larry, check out www.!


Larry Buchan in his home, surrounded by his collection.



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BUiLDiNG fOR THE fUTURE Meeting market demand for accessible housing by Heather Lissel


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An accessible patio entrance.


injury more than 30 years ago, there was virtually no wheelo one I know enjoys moving. Sure, it can be exciting chair accessible housing available in Edmonton. What did exist to buy a new home and make it your own, but the sellwas institutional and intended to accommodate individuals, ing, searching, packing and purchasing can strain not families. By necessity, Larry became an advocate, educateven the most laid-back person. So why do we move? ing government and building industry stakeholders about the There are a multitude of reasons, ranging from those that reflect need for accessible family dwellings. Abby Road Housing Co-op a basic desire (as in “I desire a better, nicer home or neighbourand Creekside (located on Millcreek Ravine) are two projects hood”) to those that reflect a need (as in “I need more, or less, in which he had direct involvement. or a different kind of space in which to live”). Both of these multi-unit housing complexes feature wheelPerhaps it’s because I’m in my 40s now, but I’m seeing more chair accessible units. If you enter one of the modified units and more people moving out of necessity, not desire. Sometimes at Creekside (a Christenson Development), you’ll find that the it’s because they need to accommodate an aging parent who can doorways and hallways are wide, flooring is smooth (carpet is no longer live on his/her own. Other times it’s to meet the needs the bane of every wheelchair user), bathrooms are spacious, of a spouse with a mobility impairment due to Multiple Sclerosis and countertops are lowered. Kitchen cupboards are equipped or other illness. with sliding shelves, light switches are lowered, and electrical All of this has me wondering, “Why do we buy homes that outlets have been raised to a height that can be easily accessed will only meet our needs in the short-term, foreseeable future?” by someone in a wheelchair. Bathrooms are large, with showers I see three reasons for this. The first is that, as a culture, built flush to the floor. In general, the floor plans are open and we don’t plan for misfortune. No one wants to think that their spacious, and built for ease of movement. spouse or child might be severely injured or fall ill, or that The amazing thing about the their parents will one day be unable to live independently. The reality is Why do we buy homes modified units at Creekside is that unless you were told, you would never that this happens all too often. The that only meet our know you were in a wheelchair accesssecond is that we aren’t aware of the needs in the short-term, ible condominium. You’d simply think features of a home that make it more, you were in a modern, well-equipped, or less, inhabitable to someone with a foreseeable future? cleverly-built home. physical disability. And the third reaIsn’t that what we all need? son is that, even if we did plan for the unknown and knew what Adding to the appeal of an accessible home is the fact that features to look for in a home, we wouldn’t be able to find them. it doesn’t cost much more to build than the typical home. The There just aren’t enough builders or developers out there who cost is far less than renovating and the accessibility features are building houses to meet those needs. are useful to anyone, regardless of ability. Another attractive This is where Larry Pempeit, Director of Community Deelement of accessible homes is that they are welcoming to all velopment at the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) visitors, able-bodied or not. Just knowing that you won’t be facing [CPA (Alberta)], comes in. When Larry sustained a spinal cord

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feature a forced move at some point in the future is priceless. Today, Larry continues to work alongside stakeholders in the housing community, including builders, to expand the number and variety of accessible housing options in Edmonton. His vast knowledge of industry standards and practices, along with his understanding of the needs of people with mobility impairments, makes him a valuable resource in the Edmonton building community. Larry is quick to note that he is only one of many people who can be called upon for advice on how to build accessible homes. People such as Ron Wickman (architect), the members of Alberta’s Barrier Free Council, and several other staff at CPA (Alberta) are also valuable resources to any builder wanting to build smarter, more accessible, homes. In the near future, CPA (Alberta) will be producing a video series to help inform builders of the basic features of accessible homes. This video will be made available through the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Edmonton Region website. In addition, CPA (Alberta) will have a booth at the upcoming Residential Construction Industry Conference, (RCIC), April 24th and 25th, 2012 at the Edmonton Expo Centre. Plans are also underway for CPA (Alberta) to deliver short presentations at CHBA-ER business luncheons. For now, builders who want to learn more about accessible home building can contact Larry Pempeit at (780) 424-6312 or Heather Lissel is a writer and project coordinator with Q Project Consulting Inc. in Sherwood Park, Alberta. She can be contacted at

This closet incorporates universal design.

An accessible washroom.

Larry in his adapted kitchen.


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With all these issues, you may wonder why I bother to travel. Well, the most stressful part of the airline experience is usually the one hour before flight and one hour after flight; the rest of the time is fine. Once you’re out of the airport you have your vacation to look forward to with the potential for great memories and experiences at the end. Anyway that’s my perspective on it.


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raveling has always been an enjoyable experience for me. It provides relief from some of the realities of everyday life and opens the possibility for new experiences, fun and adventure! Some elements of traveling however drive me crazy and, for the most part, they all relate to air travel! My experience is that if you are physically reliant on others for help, you become a nuisance for the airlines. I was on a recent flight to Phoenix with WestJet which has some of the best customer service staff, both on and off the plane. One thing I don’t like however is that they insist that I sit by the window. This means they have to transfer me not only to the seat but over two more seats. This is very difficult for me and those helping as I must be lifted over the arm rests (bulkhead seating). This increases the chance of injury to all of us. When I asked for an explanation, I was told that it’s a safety regulation. Is this a policy only on WestJet? I have flown with Air Canada, US Air, Continental Air and Alaskan Airlines and none of these airlines have such a policy. Another problem is that some airlines take the batteries out of the wheelchair and carry them separately. Not a big issue - except they never get them back into my wheelchair, which means I sometimes have to wait up to an hour. And it isn’t just one airline – it seems to be random. Sometimes they take the batteries out on the initial flight and leave them on for the return flight. Transporting the wheelchair is another issue. I usually leave written instructions with the wheelchair so they know how to disengage the motors and disconnect power. Somewhere between leaving and arrival, these instructions usually get lost. On one trip I’m looking out the window of the plane and see the ground crew trying to push my wheelchair without disengaging the motors. Finally in order to move it they get five people to push and lift it onto the conveyor belt. After landing, I’m not sure how they got it to the bulkhead as I’m sure it was too heavy to carry that far. On another trip I looked out and saw my wheelchair lying on its side going up the conveyor belt. Is it any wonder chairs are damaged? Usually, boarding a plane in Canada is not much of a problem and flight and ground crew try to accommodate as best they can. I don’t find the same attitude when flying in the United States where staff are private contractors or “Red Caps” (porters etc.); I generally find these individuals to be not very knowledgeable and inattentive to what I say. WestJet staff are to be commended for their attitude and helpfulness. On my last trip to Phoenix they made sure I made it to the luggage area. On the same trip, I used US Air to San Diego. “Every person for themselves” seemed to be their attitude. Once I was in my chair, everyone disappeared, leaving me to find my own way to the elevators and luggage. I found their attitude not at all friendly or helpful. Getting help to get off the plane was equally as stressful.

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TREATINg&PREVENTINg PRESSURE ULCERS Feasibility of an Internet Clinic: A Collaboration with the Rick Hansen Institute Translational Research Program.

WHAT ARE WE STUDYINg? There is a lack of knowledge about how information technologies might be used more effectively to help persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) better treat and prevent pressure ulcers in Canada. This multi-site pilot investigation will assess the feasibility of integrating several information technologies, each deployed over the internet, within the practices associated with clinical management and prevention of pressure ulcers in persons with SCI. Ten individuals will be participating in Calgary, out of a total of 40 individuals across Canada. As part of the study, participants will receive all the care that they would normally receive, but several different technologies will be used that allow secure communications and data transfer so participants can receive this care within their own residences.

HOW WILL WE DO THAT? We are seeking participants from the Calgary area to become involved in this study led by Dr. Denise Hill and Dr. Chester Ho. Participants will complete assessments online on their home PC using a Remote Patient Monitoring system. They will have the opportunity to share photographs of their wound(s) and an environmental assessment video showing the factors that might represent risk with the study wound care team. There will also be a real time video-consultation between the participant in their home and the study wound care team. This video-consultation will result in the development of a treatment and follow-up plan that will be implemented by the care team and research staff. The participants will complete regular follow-up assessments on the Remote Patient Monitoring system to enable the care team to monitor their progress.

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE? Participants must be at least 18 years old, have a preexisting pressure ulcer of stage two severity (open wound), have a personal computer (PC) and internet connection at home, and live within a one-hour drive of Calgary.

WHAT ARE SOME POTENTIAL BENEFITS? In addition to regular care through home care you will have videoconference access to the study wound care team. You will be provided with a high definition web cam. In addition, the information collected will help identify possible barriers and facilitating factors for internet supported clinics. This information will be essential for the development of future internet clinics, which aim to treat and prevent pressure ulcers and improve access to health care services through the internet for persons with SCI.


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HOW MUCH TIME DOES IT TAKE? The initial assessments during the first week of the study will take approximately three hours. Follow-up assessments will take approximately 30 minutes every other week over six months or until the pressure ulcer is healed. For more information, please contact: Timothy Hill, Research Coordinator Internet Wound Treatment Clinic Study Office: (403) 618-8502 Cell: 403-619-0381 E-mail:

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health Reprinted courtesy of The Spin magazine, BCPA

by Cliff Bridges


Image courtesy of BCPA

erry LeBlanc had enjoyed enviable good health during the 33 years that had elapsed since he became a C4 quadriplegic in a diving accident. “During those thirty-some years I had worked at BCIT, BC Hydro, and the GVRD in CAD and digital mapping,” says LeBlanc. ‘Life goes on’ was my mantra post-injury and, because I was lucky enough to be injured in Vancouver, my quality of life was excellent.” But a blip on the radar appeared almost overnight this past September. “Approaching my late 50s, naturally I had aches and pains from too few muscles doing too much work,” he says. “But suddenly I lost all strength in my right arm and developed a very sore shoulder from the trapezius down through the shoulder blade. It was a pain I’d never felt before. All of this happened within a couple of days.” LeBlanc remembered that a small syrinx—a fluid-filled cavity or cyst in his spinal cord—had been spotted in an MRI taken back in 1988. “I remembered the doctor telling me that, if I ever had a sudden loss of function, to get into the ER. Despite this I foolishly hesitated to go into emergency for several days hoping against hope that it would go away on its own. I finally took a good book and parked myself in emergency at Vancouver General Hospital for two days. On the second day, the MRI confirmed that the previously stable syrinx had suddenly gotten much larger.” What LeBlanc had developed was posttraumatic syringomyelia (sear-IN-go-my-EE-lia)—PTS for short. PTS occurs This large syrinx at C7 is clearly visible. at the site of the initial SCI, in an estimated three percent of people with SCI—mainly those with profuse sweating, spasticity, pain and upper thoracic or cervical injuries. autonomic dysreflexia (AD) can all Just like every person is It can develop any time after SCI— More serious yet is the possibilunique, every damaged result. sometimes in just months after injury, ity of new levels of irreversible neurosometimes taking years to show up. spinal cord has unique logical damage—and corresponding It begins with formation of a syrinx, new levels of disability. issues as well. usually the result of tethering—a The only treatment option is surcondition where scar tissue binds or gery, according to Dr. Scott Paquette, one of two spine surgeons “tethers” the spinal cord to the dura, the soft tissue membrane at Vancouver General Hospital who deal with the majority of that surrounds it. A small syrinx may never become a problem, PTS cases in BC. or it may remain stable for years. It may grow slowly over many “Treating a syrinx is never easy,” says Paquette. “Just like years, or grow rapidly. every person is unique, every damaged spinal cord has unique The tethering prevents the spinal fluid from moving freely issues as well. These operations are very delicate as every blood around the spinal cord. Pressure may increase, forcing more vessel and nerve is potentially vital. We tend to use a surgical fluid into the cord and the syrinx. As spinal fluid leaks into the microscope for these operations to see even the smallest detail cavity, pressure builds and the cavity expands, damaging nearby of anatomy. The average surgery usually lasts anywhere from nerve fibres. The result is full-blown PTS. four to six hours.” The results can be devastating. Progressive deterioration Paquette explains that current surgical practice is aimed of the spinal cord, progressive loss of sensation or strength,


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health very concerned about the procedure. I have a couple of friends who have had to have syrinxes shunted with resulting loss of function and many complications. It crossed my mind several times to cancel the surgery, even when I was in pre-op.” Despite his misgivings, LeBlanc proceeded. The surgery took place on September 29, one week after LeBlanc checked into emergency. “When I awoke from surgery, the shoulder pain was gone,” says LeBlanc. “And the arm function returned to C4 level the day after the procedure. I was told that as soon as the laminectomy was done, ultrasound showed the spinal fluid resuming normal flow. In total, I spent eight days on the Spine Ward at VGH. Some four weeks later, I’m still stretching and combating muscle stiffness but I’m euphoric at how successful the surgery was.” Since the surgery, LeBlanc has heard of several others who have had the same outcomes. “It was an eye-opener because, before the procedure, I’d only heard about the ones with multiple complications. But I’ve also heard from others who put off the surgery too long. When the surgery was finally performed, it was successful, but the function never returned.” For this reason, early detection is critical. “I would advise any readers to listen to what their body is telling them,” says LeBlanc. “Any sudden onset of weakness shouldn’t be ignored. When presenting at emergency, ask to speak to a neurosurgeon. Most importantly, be patient. It’s very easy to get upset with the glacial pace at the ER and to refuse to go or to leave prematurely.” Paquette agrees. “Early and correct diagnosis of syringoTerry LeBlanc, BCPA board member and enthusiastic sailor myelia can mean halting the progression of the disease and saving neurological function. I’d like to at restoring a fluid pathway down the spinal canal. “Often,” he says, “this can Sometimes the best remind readers that sometimes the best you have for your medical care be accomplished by opening up a naradvocate you have advocate is yourself. Even in a very busy general rowed spinal canal or releasing any scar for your medical practice, a doctor may only follow a few tissue (un- tethering) in order to recreate patients with SCI and, given how rare a path for the spinal fluid to flow around care is yourself. PTS is, it’s likely they’ve never treated a the cord as the first option.” patient with it. Additionally, most syringomyelia becomes sympSurgery usually leads to stabilization, improved strength tomatic years after the SCI. It’s not likely to be the number one and reduced pain (although it doesn’t always bring back lost differential diagnosis on the GP’s mind. I tell every patient to sensory function). But Paquette concedes that the first surgery be wary of progressive neurologic loss and to insist on an MRI isn’t always successful. if that ever happens. MRI is really the test of choice.” “Sometimes the scar reforms and we need to re-operate or Paquette offers one final piece of advice. “Being fit and opt for other options such as shunting the spinal fluid elsewhere healthy always helps prior to, and following surgery. And while in the spinal canal or even diverting that fluid to another area there’s a lack of scientific data to prove this in syringomyelia of the body,” he says. “Also, shunts are mechanical devices that surgery, it’s preferable for patients to quit smoking prior to surcan fail, block, break or slip out of the correct position.” gery and to be as well-nourished as possible.” Other possibilities during surgery may include placing a small graft at the tethering site to fortify the dural space and decrease the risk of re-scarring. In LeBlanc’s case, a gradual narrowing of the spinal column at C3 was the reason his long-stable syrinx had begun to Check into your closest emergency room if you experience the expand. Just above his injury site, the column had begun fillfollowing symptoms: ing in with bone and compressing the cord. This restricted the • loss of feeling in the extremities spinal fluid flow, and it finally infiltrated the cord itself, rapidly • muscle weakness leading to PTS. • increased spasticity “My surgeon (Dr. Paquette) told me that decompressing the • pain that is new or different spinal cord was the only solution,” says LeBlanc. “A laminec• changes in patterns of sweating tomy was needed on the back of my spine to give the spinal cord • chronic pain and headaches some breathing room, so to speak. I’m not ashamed to say I was


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BOYLE RENaiSSaNCE A New Face to an Old Area by Larry Pempeit


n March 27, 2012 after four years of hard work, sod was turned for an exciting 90 suite apartment complex. The ceremony took place on the project site at 105 Avenue and 95th Street in Edmonton. The project is part of a downtown redevelopment focus bringing a new face to an area long in disrepair. On hand for the sod turning was Mike Holmes, of the TV show Holmes on Homes, who will act as consultant and advisor for the project, particularly in the area of energy efficiency and construction methods. In his opening address he said “By working with the City of Edmonton, the Province of Alberta and affordable housing developers like the Métis Capital Housing Corporation, we’re providing sustainable and durable housing that’s also affordable,” says Holmes. “It just goes to show what you can accomplish when you work as a team towards the same goals. When we all step in the right direction, moving forward is easy.” Because of its energy saving focus, ENMAX has also taken an interest. Charles Ruigrok, interim President and CEO, ENMAX Corporation said “Among other things, ENMAX’s vision for corporate responsibility includes cleaner energy choices for consumers and investing in the communities we serve.” “The Boyle Renaissance project allows us to focus on both of these mandates. The facility will benefit from advanced heating and power systems that use cleaner burning natural gas and will reduce the amount of electricity that has to be purchased from the grid.” All 90 units will include two bedroom affordable housing, made up of 57 units specifically for individuals who are aboriginal and over the age of 55. The remaining 33 units will have no age restriction and will be accessible for persons with disabil-


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ities. “This building will have a significant impact on the lack of accessible housing for people with disabilities. This project will take some of the stress off a long waitlist for housing in the downtown core,” said Larry Pempeit, Director of Community Development, Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta). Darlene Lennie, Executive Director of Métis Capital Housing Corporation told the audience this is the largest project for the Corporation since its inception three years ago. She went on to say. “We thank all of the project partners for supporting the development, ensuring that we have affordable, sustainable and quality homes for some of our most vulnerable people.” One of the major features of this complex are three ground floor units that will be totally adapted for individuals who have severe disabilities As well as barrier free design, these three units will include many environmental controls, all provided by Cisco Canada. For example, individuals will be able to remotely control entry areas, temperature, blinds, emergency systems, etc. All units in the building will be ‘visitable’, including 5 foot turning radiuses, wider doorways, lowered light switches and electrical receptacles, laminate flooring and other equipment to make life easier for a person with a disability. Other features of this seven story building will be a rooftop gathering area that may have a gardening component as well as sixth floor open atrium. The first floor will include 10,000 ft.² of commercial space opening onto a revitalized streetscape and services. Funding for this 22 million dollar project came from Métis Capital Housing Corporation and other levels of government. Construction will be done by Clark Builders. ATB Architectures are providing the drawings etc. It is hoped the project will open in November of 2013.

community fiND YOURSELf

A Home Away fROM HOME by Barry Lindemann


think the Spanish say “Mi Casa Es Su Casa” which literally means “my house is your house”, and for some folks with disabilities who like to travel, it also means saying goodbye to staying in hotels while on the road—and instead enjoying the comfort of someone else’s accessible home while they are away. While the idea of renting a vacation or second home is not exactly a brand new idea, the internet has really changed the ways in which travelers with disabilities can find a place to rest their weary heads. If you need a wheel–in shower, a lift, or zero-step entrance and are tired of staying in cramped, small hotels that may not suit your individual needs, finding a barrier-free home in which to kick back while on the road can definitely help to make your trip better. Finding an accessible home couldn’t be easier as long as you have access to the internet. There are a number of websites that dominate the online home rental business, but my favorite is Based in Austin, Texas, HomeAway Inc. is the world’s leading online marketplace of vacation rentals, with sites representing more than 625,000 paid vacation rental home listings throughout more than 145 countries. The company makes it easy for vacation rental owners and property managers to advertise their properties and manage bookings online. What’s great about almost all of their websites is that you have the ability to search properties for wheelchair access. It’s always wise, however, to do your homework, to ensure the property has what you need in terms of accessibility. My advice would be to read any online reviews and/or get in touch with the owner before your stay—just to ensure there are no surprises and that you’ll be comfortable and safe. CPA (Alberta) member Dennis Schulz of Edmonton became a convert to staying in accessible homes while on the road after his recent trip to Las Vegas. Dennis stayed in a barrier-free condo owned by CPA (Alberta) staff member Barry Lindemann ( Dennis said he liked staying in the condo because it was located in a nice, quiet community and had all the accessibility features he needed. Amenities were close by and there was even a wheelchair accessible van available for use and parked at the unit. In fact, Dennis said he didn’t miss anything about staying in a hotel and looks forward to perhaps doing it again! So next time you are thinking of traveling, consider an accessible vacation home. For more tips on renting an accessible vacation home visit,, or

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ONE CaNaDiaN iNSPiRES MiLLiONS by Colleen Wilson

Marc Ross


Leslie Warick

n March 21, 1985 Rick Hansen began his ‘Man in Motion’ tour, wheeling around the world in just 26 months. Twenty-five years later, 7000 Canadians helped to re-create Hansen’s iconic journey. The Rick Hansen Relay began on August 24, 2011 in Cape Spear, NF and concluded on May 22, 2012 in Vancouver, BC. Each day during this nine-month journey, a special medal created by the Royal Canadian Mint was carried by selected medal bearers; individuals chosen based on their ability to be ‘Difference Makers’; champions for inclusiveness and advocates for awareness on issues surrounding disability. Also included were individuals who promote healthy lifestyles and those working to create a more inclusive planet. Throughout the journey, the Relay passed through over 600 communities and traveled over 12,000 kilometres! CPA (Alberta) and many of our clients and members were honoured to play a role in many of the Alberta communities in which we have offices. On day 176, the Rick Hansen Man in Motion Relay entered Alberta with a bang! Medicine Hat played host to the first “End of the Day” celebration of the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay, while McDonald’s hosted the opening celebration. Mayor Norm Boucher, along with other dignitaries, honored two medal bearers and, in addition, small presentations were made at Crestwood and St. Thomas Schools, educating over 600 students about the relay. Medicine Hat Cross Country Team and the Eagle Butte Talons Cross County teams assisted endurance wheeler Lonnie Bissionette up the steepest and then the longest hill he encountered during his leg of the journey. A short ceremony at city hall showcased some of the part-


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Sydney Jago

Jack Smart

nerships within the city of Medicine Hat and CPA (Alberta) staff member, Sue Edwards spoke about how the Alberta SCI Solutions Fund has helped so many people with spinal cord injuries. Medal bearers were honoured in a celebration at the Family Leisure Center. Duane Burr, driving his accessible Can Am Spyder, led a group of over 30 medal bearers and Talon runners. The day ended at a Tigers’ hockey game, showcasing how hockey fans come in different shapes and sizes and sometimes use wheels instead of legs. Day number 176 was fantastic and Medicine Hat was honoured to be the first in Alberta to witness an amazing team in action! The excitement and momentum continued throughout Alberta, with Calgary “Difference Makers” gearing up for their leg of the tour at the BMO Centre within the Stampede grounds. CPA (Alberta)’s Russ Bray was invited to be part of the Rick Hansen Relay team, spending time on the official tour bus, taking photos and videos of those who made significant contributions within Calgary. Behind the scenes interviews took place with participants who shared their thoughts as they prepared to run, walk, wheel or bike. Edmonton’s celebration included performances by integrated dance company, iDance, and the Braille Tones Choir. Rick Hansen himself was also on hand to say a few words, and provide inspiration. CPA (Alberta) Executive Director, Teren Clarke, along with staff members, Edgar Jackson, Kuen Tang and Zachary Weeks were chosen as “Difference Makers”. CPA (Alberta)’s Art Erickson provided information and assistance with the Spruce Grove, Hinton and Wabamun events, and arranged a wheelchair challenge and wheelchair basketball demonstration in Stony Plain.

community These events also celebrated the “Difference Makers” who have helped to create a more accessible world. The relay, while capturing the spirit of the original ‘Man in Motion’ tour, was also meant to inspire a new generation of leaders and difference makers, in much the same way as the original tour. We would like to congratulate and thank those involved with the relay for their work in promoting awareness, and paving the way for those to follow in the future. CPA (Alberta) was a proud partner and supporter of the Relay, with many of its staff and members chosen as medal bearers. Some participants commented on the Relay.

COMMENTS FROM PARTICIPANTS Jack Smart said, “It was reassuring to learn about the other “Difference Makers” in my relay group and see the power of focused efforts as many individuals I was running with shared their experiences and reasons for participating. The Relay was motivation to me to continue to make a difference in my community that people with disabilities have a “CAN” attitude. A highlight for me as well, was that my kids (Sophie and Eli) were able to join me on the relay run, so that we could be together. Too often, I am not able to share in activities with them fully, so this was special for me.” Leslie Warick, another participant said, “It was cold and windy, and difficult for those in chairs to wheel uphill but I was honoured to even be selected... to be recognized as a “Difference Maker”, as they call us.” When asked if what Rick did 25 years ago resonated with her, the reply was “Oh absolutely! How much further we’ve come (from 25 years ago) is just proof of how far

Rick Hansen and Lonnie Bissonnette we can go in another 25 years.” Everyone involved expressed what an honour and memorable experience it was for them. Much has changed in the past 25 years, however, as demonstrated throughout this Relay, the spirit of the original ‘Man in Motion’ tour remains! For further information, go to

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onique van der Vorst is something of a medical miracle. For reasons unknown to medical science, this former Paralympian is now able to walk again. As a young teenager, van der Vorst lost the use of her legs due to a surgery gone wrong. She was injured again in a car accident in 2008, leaving her with an incomplete spinal cord injury. Not letting her disability stop her, van der Vorst became an elite athlete, competing in both wheelchair racing and handcycling, winning multiple national and European road racing championships, as well as two silver medals in handcycling at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. After being hit from behind by a cyclist in 2010 while training for the London Paralympics, van der Vorst again found herself in the hospital. This time, however it was different. Lying in the hospital bed, she balled her hand into a fist and began rotating her arm to exercise it. Suddenly she felt a tingling in her legs. Doctors are at a loss to explain it, but just months after that first tingle, Monique van der Vorst was walking again for the first time in over a decade. She is no longer eligible to compete in the Paralympics, so she has redirected her focus to the Olympics, hoping to compete in the 2016 Games. She took another step towards her goal when she signed with Rabobank, a top Dutch women’s cycling team. Through all the ups and downs in her life, Monique van der Vorst has remained optimistic and determined to change what circumstances she could and make the very best of those she could not. “I’ve had many bad situations in my life and it’s not fun, but every time you learn from it and you get stronger because


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Monique at the track. Photo courtesy of The Province. you have to make the decision to fight to get out of it,” she said. “There’s always an end as long as you keep fighting. You get stronger from the things you learned in life. And I learned the hard way.” To read more about Monique van der Vorst, you can visit her personal website at Der_Vorst/Welcome.html.




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Ed and Marie Stelmach, Honourary Patrons of the Red Carpet Affair, present the Christopher Reeve Award to Mark Zupan


Red Carpet Affair COMES Of aGE A by Marc Quinn

fter nine years, the 2012 Red Carpet Affair truly came of age on March 16, 2012. Sponsored by James H. Brown & Associates, the annual gala in support of the CPA (Alberta) has become a very successful fundraiser since it began in 2003, but its original mandate to celebrate the success of persons with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities has also grown exponentially. By inviting the widest range of attendees, clients and their families, representatives from business, governments, healthcare, social services and media, the Red Carpet Affair has become a reunion of these communities each year and resulted in new relationships, new understandings, and new hope for those who deal with disabilities every day. Anything can happen at the Red Carpet Affair and it often does - for the good of all persons with physical disabilities. In 2012, the event netted nearly $110,000, our best showing ever, thanks to so many people who sponsored, bought tables and tickets, donated auction items, bid on auction items, bought raffle tickets and made additional donations. Christopher Reeve Award winner, Murderball star Mark Zupan shared the experiences of his injury and recovery and new found interest in the


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world of wheelchair rugby. Mark is very proud of his long awaited Gold medal in Beijing and hopes to regain the same colour medal in London this summer. Vance Milligan was honoured the same night with the Gary McPherson Lifetime Achievement Award and wowed us with his words of wisdom and inspiration. The Mayor of Grande Prairie, Bill Given joined us to accept the Percy Wickman Accessibility Award for the amazing accessibility of the new Grande Prairie Aquatics and Wellness Multiplex (recently re-named the EastLink Centre). Finally, all hearts went out to Ken Thomas who was presented with the annual Honourable Lois Hole Community Development Award for his amazing determination to gain acceptance in the world of disability sport when it seemed nobody would listen. Highlights of the evening also included the raffle for a customized adventure vacation in Maui, the live auction which featured vacations in St. Croix and San Juan, an incredible equipment package from Flaman Fitness and a Beef & Barbeque package. And every penny from these and other items up for grab went directly to supporting programs for clients with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities.

recognition Our 2012 Award Winners

Christopher Reeve Award Presented to Mark Zupan by Ed and Marie Stelmach

Honourable Lois Hole Community Development Award Presented to Ken Thomas by Jim Hole

Percy Wickman Accessibility Award Presented to the City of Grande Prairie for the Grande Prairie Aquatics and Wellness Multiplex (Newly named the EastLink Centre) by Ceira and Jayden Wickman (Accepting award: Mayor Bill Given)

Gary McPherson Lifetime Achievement Award Presented to R. Vance Milligan, Q.C., ICD.D by Dr. Robert Steadward, O.C., A.O.E., LLD

Thank You to our 2012 Sponsors Gala Sponsor

Milestone Sponsors

Wine Sponsor

Print Sponsor


Spoke Sponsors

Special Item Sponsors



Kirsten Martin and Julie Drewniak

Media Sponsors

Lighting Features Audio Visual Features

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what’s new in

Alberta CALgARY AMA Launches Adapted Driver Training Program The Alberta Motor Association is teaming up with the CPA (Alberta) to deliver an adapted driver training program in Calgary for drivers with spinal cord injuries along with everyone else who might benefit from the program. The three-year pilot program is funded by the Alberta Spinal Cord Injury Initiative, implemented in partnership with the CPA (Alberta), and is taught by qualified and experienced instructors from AMA Driver Education. AMA Driver Education will tailor the program to suit individual driver needs, specific to the level of their injuries. All participants will undergo a four to six hour driver refresher program which will teach them the basics about driving and operating any adaptive equipment. They can also opt to enroll in the full Learn to Drive program, based on AMA new driver education courses. A few students have successfully gone through the program and have indicated they were pleased with the advice and information. If financial need can be proven, CPA (Alberta) may be able to provide financial assistance to pay for this new program. Contact your local CPA (Alberta) office for more information about funding. For more information about the Driver Education Program, contact Sharon Grolmus at (403) 240-5478, Don Szarko at (780) 430-5733 or check out their website at driver-education. Information such as the Adapted Driver Training Program Screening Form (for Physicians) and Adapted Driver Training Frequently Asked Questions can also be found on the CPA (Alberta) website at resources/?resource_id=7691. Calgary Peer Program

money!) which was then used to buy items that were auctioned off at the end of the evening. There was great food for everyone along with time to socialize. Thank you to those who volunteered at the event. Thank you to Norma for arranging extra dealers to come out and help make this event a success. And thank you EllisDon for sponsoring this event! On April 20, 2012 we had the opportunity to meet with Josh Dueck, Canadian alpine skier and first paraplegic to do a back flip in a sit-ski. With 20 people in attendance, everyone was motivated by Josh’s words of encouragement. As Rick Hansen says, Josh is a “difference maker” and he certainly made a difference for those who came out to meet him. Thank you to the Carewest Dr. Vernon Fanning Centre for allowing us to host this event on such short notice. Thank you Josh for taking the time to stop at the Fanning Centre.

EDMONTON Peer Program The Edmonton Peer Program, proudly sponsored by Classic Health Supplies, continues to grow with lots of enthusiastic participants. We are excited about the formation of three new peer groups – Wise Wheelers (males 40 and up); Young Guns (males under 40); and Heels on Wheels (females, any age). Regular Meet and Greets are held at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital (first Wednesday of each month). Edmonton recently hosted an Incontinence Information evening sponsored by Coloplast and a bowling night. For information on upcoming peer events, contact Brian McPherson at 780424-6312, or go to org/programs_services/peer_community/edmonton. Equipment Donation

CPA (Alberta) staff with Bojan Paduh, president of ERA. The Electronic Recycling Association (ERA) donated 12 refurbished laptops and 2 projectors in support of CPA (Alberta) and our clientele. For more information, contact Kris Janvier at 780-424-6312, ext. 2234 or kris.janvier@


Josh Dueck and Terena Dunham at the Fun Money Casino night. Thank you EllisDon for sponsoring the Calgary Fun Money Casino and Games night on March 31, 2012! Approximately 80 people came out to the Coast Plaza Hotel & Conference Centre and had a great time playing games, meeting new people and bidding on auction items. Guests were given $50,000 (play


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City of Grande Prairie Recognized for New Multiplex Newly opened in December 2011 of this year, the Grande Prairie Aquatics and Wellness Complex, now renamed the EastLink Centre, is an outstanding example of a facility where inclusiveness is not an afterthought and is evident throughout the facility. At the CPA (Alberta) Red Carpet Affair held on March 16, 2012, Mayor of Grande Prairie, Bill Given was on hand to receive the Percy Wickman Accessibility Award, a provincial award given to the owner of a facility that has exceeded build-

r egions RED DEER Red Deer Receives Generous Donation Thank you to Ken Travis and the Employees of Strata Energy Services Inc. for donating $4500 of their Golf Tournament proceeds to the Red Deer CPA (Alberta) Office. Grande Prairie’s new EastLink Centre ing codes in terms of wheelchair accessibility. During the consultation phase of the project, representatives of CPA (Alberta) and the Wolverines Wheelchair Sports Association were invited to provide input and advice on accessibility features to incorporate into construction of the $110 million structure. The consideration of access is evident throughout the facility. The City of Grande Prairie is to be commended for ensuring that this outstanding facility is inclusive and able to meet the needs of all community members, including those who may have physical, mental, and/or visual challenges.

MEDICINE HAT $900.00 to be Applied to Client Services Programming February was CPA (Alberta)’s month to be the recipient of REDI Bottle Donation Program, receiving a cheque for just under $900.00 to be applied to Client Services Programming. Wheelchair Curling Season Winds Up Wheelchair curling is winding up and has been a fun and learning season. Decisions are now being made to try and put together a competitive team for next season. If anyone is interested, please give Shirley a call 403-866-8528.

WEST CENTRAL ALBERTA Accessibility Improvements to Happen in Near Future The Town of Whitecourt joined the list of municipalities that requested assistance in determining how they might improve accessibility to their public facilities. An audit of the curling rink, skating rink, community centre, recreation centre, town hall, library, RCMP office and information centre was conducted and further examination of outdoor facilities will be done by CPA (Alberta) once spring arrives. Sailing with Disabilities Scheduled for June 23 and 24, 2012 at the Wabamun Sailing Club. Boats provided by the Disabled Sailing Association of Alberta can be sailed with quad controls or sip and puff tubes. No charge for participants and lunch will be provided! This event is open to anyone with a physical disability. Participants are responsible for their own transportation and accommodation. Come dressed for the weather and be prepared to have lots of fun! For more information, contact Art Erickson at 780-892-3431 or

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TRaVELLiNG by Chris Brainerd

Are you a wannabe traveller with a disability? Have you experienced setbacks with your planning? CPA (Alberta) Manager of Client Services, Guy Coulombe, has some advice for those who are considering train travel. Guy and his travel partner, Mina, along with her sister and nephew, won tickets for their trip in an auction and made plans to travel to Vancouver at the end of June 2011. When he talked to a VIA agent at the station in Edmonton, Guy was told he would be unable to take his power chair on the train (it would be stored as checked baggage), so this was no surprise. What was a surprise, however, was just how inaccessible the train really was. The aisles were too narrow even for a manual wheelchair, so he had to be pushed throughout the train on an aisle chair (like those used on airplanes). Guy transferred to a captain’s chair in the panorama car, which he found quite comfortable, and stayed there during the day on the way to Vancouver. He was able to relax and enjoy the scenery, and VIA staff brought him meals and drinks, so he did not have to be pushed to the dining car. Another plus was the fact that he was able to bring his own wine on board! While VIA staff were not allowed to lift Guy during his transfers from the aisle chair to the captain’s chair, they did provide minimal assistance in this regard. Another problem Guy encountered, in addition to the narrow aisles, was the sleeping compartment. There was very little storage space, so they were only able to bring minimal baggage on board. Guy has travelled before, however, and was able to manage, knowing exactly what he needed. The bunks folded up to make more room, but it was still quite cramped, because the staff put a captain’s chair into the compartment for daytime lounging (he sat in this chair on the trip back to Edmonton). The washroom in the room was too narrow to access, even using the aisle chair. Guy says that perhaps a “super-strong paraplegic” or a person who can walk a little could use this washroom, but otherwise he suggests using the public washroom in a separate car; it is larger and includes a raised toilet and grab bars.


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Guy Coulombe rides the train to Vancouver. In giving advice to future travellers with disabilities on VIA Rail, Guy says, “Make sure you have an attendant” and when speaking to VIA agents, “If you are unsure about something, go down to the station and see if you can board the train while it’s in the station to see how you could manage.” In regards to making a round trip on the train, Guy advises against it. “I would take the train one way and fly back. The scenery is the same both ways,” he says with a smile. Note: VIA Rail has a range of accommodations for travellers with special needs. To ensure that the train in your area can accommodate your needs, you are advised to contact VIA 48 hours in advance. To see what accommodations can be provided, please call VIA Rail at 1 888 VIA-RAIL (1 888 842-7245) or visit their website at www.



UNiVERSaL DESiGN iTS by Ron Wickman

My father always loved Las Vegas. In his mind, it was the most wheelchair friendly city in the world. I have been to visit on many occasions. At one hotel, I noticed visitors could take a boat ride simulating a Venetian gondola tour. I also noticed a vertical porch lift that would allow visitors who could not use the stairs, gain access to the boats. Take a look at how this hotel used universal design to ensure everyone can appreciate the gondola tour.

An exterior view, from the hotel, of a gondola boat in the water moving to go under a bridge.

This is a vertical porch lift which allows a visitor with a disability to gain access to the boat entry level. The lift costs approximately $8,000.00 to supply and install. A small amount of money spent on this lift provides everyone a special experience. Visitors then stay at the hotel, have fun, eat and take in a show. The lift pays for itself over and over again. A view of the gondola tour waterway complete with a bridge. Spinal Columns


library in our library


Spinal Cord injury Reprinted from CPA (Ontario) e-Spoken, January 2012


Will Teach You Everything You Need to Know is a new book published by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation for kids who have someone in their life who has sustained a spinal cord injury. Written through the eyes of a young boy whose father is injured, readers have the chance to see the impact of a spinal cord injury on the family as well as identify and better understand the changes in their lives. Author Dr. Stephen Kishblum is the Medical Director and Director of Spinal Cord Injury Services at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. The book is available for free by filling out a form on the Foundation’s website at From their website: I Will Teach You Everything You Need to Know is written by Dr. Steven Kirshblum who is the Medical Director and Director of Spinal Cord Injury Services at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. The book bridges a gap in the literature for children who need to understand spinal cord injury and how it affects their family. In this case, a seven-year-old boy has a close relationship with his father. Their relationship changes after the father is spinal cord injured. The boy learns to support and help his father the way his father had always done for him.


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lbertans with physical disabilities have the opportunity to read like never before. The CNIB Library Partners Program represents a huge step forward in access to information for all people who have a barrier to print. Thanks to funding from the Alberta government, the CNIB Library Partners Program is available free of charge through all of the province’s public libraries. Albertans with print disabilities can choose from 80,000 titles in the CNIB Library alternative format collection, including audio, Braille and described video. CNIB is Canada’s largest producer of accessible library material and there is material for all ages and interests, in both official languages. Whether you’re looking for the latest bestseller, a classic favourite or today’s sports section, the CNIB Library helps you read what you want, how you want, when you want. For people who don’t read print, the CNIB Library Partners Program means unprecedented access to a broad collection of accessible materials such as books, magazines and newspapers, using a public library card.

HOW DO I DECLARE MY PRINT DISABILITY? A print disability is the inability to read traditional print and can result from learning disabilities, physical disabilities or visual disabilities. Signing up to receive CNIB Library material is straightforward. Identify your particular type of print disability (learning disability, physical, visual) in a self declaration. You don’t need to provide documentation. Next, select the method you prefer to receive CNIB Library material. You can choose from online, circulating items, or both. Provide your public library card number or barcode. Don’t have a public library card? Many public libraries will consider waiving registration fees for their cards for patrons with print disabilities. Check at your local branch for their policies regarding waiving registration fees. Once you have a public library card you can register by completing the online registration form at Library staff may refer you using an online form, which is available at A CNIB librarian will contact you to set up your library service. Get ready to start reading!

stay connected with wireless internet

Passengers requiring Wheelchair Lift


Edmonton | Red Deer

Calgary | Fort McMurray Spinal Columns


OBC - Edmonton - YPG


$5,200,000 - Spinal cord injury (quadriplegia) resulting from


single vehicle rollover.

(To our knowledge this is the largest SCI settlement ever achieved in Alberta.)

- Traumatic brain injury resulting from accident caused by drunk driver. (To our knowledge this is the largest

TBI settlement ever achieved in Alberta.)

- Wrongful death resulting from accident caused by drunk driver crossing center line.





In addition to Alberta’s leading spinal cord and brain injury settlements (see above) our legal team has established precedents in cases involving brain injury, whiplash, chronic pain, TMJ injury and fibromyalgia.

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Spinal Columns: Spring 2012 Volume 28 Number 2